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Invisible Man (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Ralph Ellison
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are all invisible! June 25 2005
Format:Paperback
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is at its core a treatise on man's inhumanity to man. What could cause people to put up with the horrifying "Battle Royal" depicted early in the novel. It's very simple, actually, as Ralph Ellison repeatedly lets us know. Most human beings treat their fellow men as pawns to be manipulated in order to fulfill certain selfish means. We see this again and again in the novel. The white benefactor to the college views the main character and his university as nothing more than another tax write-off or an antidote to his nagging conscience. When he is confronted with the reality of the deep South, when the horror of the true conditions of most blacks is revealed to him during the road trip, the main character is expelled for exposing these members of society the dean wants to keep "invisible." The Communist Party also views blacks as nothing more than a special interest group that they can keep in check and manipulate through their rhetoric. To them, the main character, with his great legitimate success and intelligence, is a greater threat than Ras the Destroyer, a mindless thug. Ras is helping the blacks stay invisible, but the main character is pushing them to succeed and forcing society to deal with them as human beings, which the party finds unacceptable. Upon realizing this, the main character at first tries to "defeat them with yeses" as his father advised him and withdraws from the people who cannot see his inner being. However, he concludes that such an acceptance is a betrayal of himself. He decides to learn to start "saying yes and saying no" to the roles that are thurst upon him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective July 22 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having grown up in the South during the civil rights era, I thought I knew all there was to know about the black/white relationship, or lack thereof. But lately, probably due to the aging process and a desire to revisit my (and other's) past, I've been delving into books that take me someplace different and offer a different perspective. The first book I read was "Raising Fences"--totally captivating and alive with emotion. Then I read "The Bark of the Dogwood"--a tale of the heroics of an African-American housekeeper in Alabama during the 60s. Then I came across "Invisible Man." Boy was this one an eye opener. First of all, this book could stand alone on the writing style--it's great. But couple this with the author's handling of the materials and you've got what should be termed "a classic." "Invisible Man" was something of a sensation when it first appeared, albeit in smaller than normal circles, but over the years it appears to have picked up steam. The reason for this is simple: it's a great book. Also recommended: Raising Fences and The Bark of the Dogwood
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5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental American classic of racial struggle March 17 2012
By S Svendsen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This can today be judged to be a monumental American classic, written in the late 1940s when the social modus operandi was characterized by racial segregation and overt discrimination. Although interracial relations have improved by leaps and bounds and the President is black it will take hundreds of years to achieve harmony to the point where, for example, interracial marriage can be accepted as natural rather than an aberration. Although fiction, Ellison's book can serve to put into historical context for the modern reader the great racial divide that existed not so long ago. It also explores the infighting and conflicting powerplays, jealousies and rivalries among the blacks. For many the road to power and success involved demeaning condescension to white authority which meant that that power or success could be rescinded if deference for and to the white man was deemed to be inadequate.

The story follows an unnamed black man from his student days at a Negro College in the South to his working life in New York City and recruitment by the Brotherhood, a political organization run by whites purporting to befriend the black community and work for racial equality. We follow him on his quest to achieve respectable and successful personhood by accepting the dictates and discipline of leaders who use him as a means to achieve their own objectives with little or no regard for his rights, his intelligence or his feelings. His trust in other people goes unrewarded. As he is repeatedly deceived, he is often backed into corners where he is boxing unknown shadows as well as flesh-and-blood adversaries. He is frequently intellectually manipulated and swindled.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Overly captivating July 5 2004
Format:Paperback
I don't know which was morer captivating to me: Ellison's writing style or Ellison's message. Obviously a must read for today's generation to understand not only the struggles, but the resulting feelings and perceptions of race at that time. Ellison presents it with such a powerful demonstration of words that you can experience his trials and tribulations. Great read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars I choose to see him April 19 2004
Format:Paperback
He is an invisible man, not that he is physically invisible, but because people refuse to see him as he is, or so the story starts.
The story is about a youthful, unnamed black man, who starts off naive and full of idealism. Throughout the book, he faces different ordeals, transforms himself several times, and makes many discoveries about the society in which he lives, each time growing as an individual and trying to find his identity.
The reason I liked this book so much because the way in which it was written makes you care about something you otherwise might not, let alone know about, how blacks weren't even paid attention to in the United States in the period before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. They weren't so much oppressed or hated, but rather ignored altogether, which, when you think about it, is much worse. It shows just a taste of how much blacks have been wronged, by whites as well as blacks. It also helped my on my path to finding who I was, even though I am not black myself.
The only thing I really disliked about this book was the slow pacing. In my opinion, the story could have been told in less detail and in less time, while still having the same effectiveness.
This is a book that deals with racism and blacks in society, so know what you're getting into when you read it. Ellison uses a lot of Southern or uneducated diction, which can be confusing at times if you've never heard it spoken before. He also uses a lot of symbols, which I thought were well used and added greatly to the book. This great American novel, though quite lengthy at 500+ pages, is worth the read, even if you're like me and not really into that sort of stuff.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The science of Nobodiness
Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN tackles an issue that frankly is so huge and complex that you wouldn't think it could be captured in a single novel. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Rocco Dormarunno
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I am writing this review to all those who overestimate Ellison as much as to those who underestimate him. Read more
Published on April 9 2004 by Joe Adlai
5.0 out of 5 stars As enthralling as it is provocative
Ralph Ellison, for starters, exhibits a masterful command of the English language and all of its literary power from therein. Read more
Published on April 8 2004 by Chris Salzer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest
Ellison is the Muhammad Ali, the colossus of fiction - I have never experienced a work of art in ANY medium as rich, provocative and poignant as "Invisible Man. Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by J. Park
2.0 out of 5 stars Invisible Man
To be quite honest the book, "Invisible Man" was not what I expected. First, it's entirely too long, somewhat boring, a little confusing and terribly disturbing to me. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by Brooke Saunders
2.0 out of 5 stars Why am i reading this?
Throughout reading this book I found myself questioned with "Why and I reading this". Although very well written, I felt that it took the author 3 pages to say something that... Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by Jess
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to be Enjoyed -- Again and Again!
Dense with powerful symbolism and dancing with artfully subtle language, Invisible Man stands as one of the greatest works of American literature ever. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Lengthy Novel is a Surprising Delight
I must confess. I was more than a little disappointed when I discovered the copy of The Invisible Man on my 11th grade reading list was authored by Ralph Ellison not H.G. Wells. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003 by Nire G. Trachm
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